You, Looking Out for Her

Dear Michael,

You originally wanted to take your sister back to the hospital. That’s what you told us after we brought Caroline home.

Mom said OK and started to wheel Caroline out the door.

“Where are you going?” you asked.

“I’m taking your sister back, just as you said you wanted,” Mom said. “But I’ll have to stay with her there.”

You looked at Mom, puzzled. “You’ll have to stay with her?” you asked.

“Oh, yes,” Mom said. “Of course. She’s too little to take care of herself.”

You gave this concept – of your mother leaving you, a five-year-old, to care for your sibling rival – some deep thought.

“Oh, OK,” you said. “She can stay.”

And that was that. Mom was just pretending there, of course. But you were serious.

Other than that incident, though, you’ve always looked out for Caroline. One time you three went to the McDonald’s on Metropolitan Avenue. Caroline went on the ride in the playground that had a long, steep tube to slide down. She climbed into the tube and we awaited her emergence, and then Mom waited some more, wondering whether she was trapped. Finally, you went into the tube to rescue her. Turns out she had just decided to hang out in there without informing anyone. But you coaxed her down, the heroic big brother.

Another time (at band camp), Caroline was little and kicking you in the legs for no apparent reason other than random sisterly malice. You could easily have kicked her back, but you refused. She kicked and kicked, but you kept the peace, declining to retaliate.

Pretty cool.

And so it is with you. You’re always ready to step in for Caroline. No matter what happens, it’s good to know you’ll always be her big brother, watching over her, keeping her safe.

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